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Gun Manufacturers Immune from Route 91 Harvest Festival Lawsuits

The Supreme Court of Nevada has upheld the state’s statutory immunity for gun manufacturers and distributors, holding that they are immune from claims arising from the Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre. On October 1, 2017, a shooter fired 1,049 rounds into a crowd attending an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. The shooter used AR-15 rifles that he had modified using bump stocks – attachments that essentially allow shooters to fire semiautomatic rifles continuously with one pull of the trigger. Litigation followed, including a lawsuit alleging those who manufactured and distributed the rifles were liable for what occurred that night.

In Parsons v. Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, 137 Nev. Adv. Op. 72 (Dec. 2, 2021), the Supreme Court on December 2, 2021, decided that Nevada Revised Statute 41.131 applied to this case and immunized the firearm manufacturers and distributors from state law claims arising from the shooting. The statute states, in relevant part, that “[n]o person has a cause of action against the manufacturer or distributor of any firearm or ammunition merely because the firearm or ammunition was capable of causing serious injury.” The plaintiffs had argued the statute did not apply here because the manufacturers and distributors knew the rifles could be modified with bump stocks and that the manufacturers’ and distributors’ liability arose from the rifles’ modification, not the rifles’ inherent capability of causing serious injury. The Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that acceptance of the plaintiff’s position would require rewriting the statute: “If civil liability is to be imposed against firearm manufacturers and distributors in the position of the gun companies in this case, that decision is for the Legislature, not this court.”

© 2022 Wilson ElserNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 348
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About this Author

Michael Lowry Las Vegas Retail Manufacturing Attorney Wilson Elser Law Firm
Partner

Michael Lowry has an active litigation and defense practice, with clients among the country’s largest and most recognizable brands in several industries, such as retail, restaurant and hospitality, commercial transportation, manufacturing and more. As a member of the firm’s emergency response team, when transportation clients face a catastrophic event, Michael and other members of Wilson Elser’s 24/7 go-team arrive on the scene to help gather and preserve information that may be critical to the client’s defense, as well as liaison at the scene with investigating...

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